May 19, 2008

#01-110: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

cartoon of six bearded little men carrying pickaxes, whistling as they cross a log bridge
It's off to work they go.

Note: Everyone knows the seven dwarfs. But did you realize that, except for Doc, they all have adjectives for names?

Get Ready: Do you know anyone with an adjective for a name? For example, "Linda" is Spanish for "beautiful," and "Bella" means the same in Italian. I have met women named "Precious," "Merry," and "Bonnie" (also "beautiful," this time in Scottish). And don't get me started on the mean nicknames we gave our playmates when we were kids!

Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first full-length animated feature made in the United States. First shown in 1937, it remains a favorite to this day. A young girl named Snow White ends up living in a forest with seven little men, called "dwarfs." In Grimm, they have no names, so the Disney writers had to invent them.

Over fifty names were considered, but these are the seven that were finally agreed on by the writers:

  1. Doc: The leader of the dwarfs, he seems to be the oldest as well as the wisest. His behavior is somewhat absent-minded (for example, he mixes up words), the stereotype of a professor--a "doctor," as it were.

  2. Dopey: In contrast to Doc, Dopey is the youngest (he doesn't even have a beard), and the most foolish. In fact, he never even speaks in the film. "Dope" is a slang word describing a stupid person; it may come from another slang word referring to drugs. For example, a person who takes a sedative may be referred to as becoming "doped" or "dopey." So Dopey's behavior is clearly quite silly.

  3. Grumpy: This word means grouchy, irritable, or bad-tempered. (My wife often calls me a "grumpy old man." She's kidding, of course--I think.) And Grumpy is true to his name, always complaining about something, and giving sharp answers. For example, when they first meet, Snow White says, "How do you do?" and Grumpy snaps back, "How do you do WHAT?!"

  4. Happy is the fattest of the Seven Dwarfs, and always laughing--like Santa Claus, or maybe like Milefo ("The Laughing Buddha"). He is Grumpy's opposite.

The remaining three dwarfs have no opposites.

  1. Sleepy: Always tired, it seems he can barely keep his eyes open. Even when there's trouble he can barely stay awake. His beard is extremely long, perhaps to remind us of Rip Van Winkle, a character in a story who slept for twenty years and woke with his beard one foot (30 centimeters) long.

  2. Sneezy: He has terrible allergies. He sneezed so hard sometimes that he could blow things--and even the other dwarfs--across a room!

  3. Bashful: When people are trying to name the dwarfs, this is the one they often forget. Can you see why? Although most of the dwarfs have "adjective" names, Bashful's is the only adjective that doesn't end in "-y." His name means shy, and he truly is. He blushes quite easily.

As mentioned, most the names are in adjective form. "Doc" is not, and "sneezy" is not a standard word, though you could use it to describe someone with a cold or allergy.

So there they are: seven descriptive names for seven funny little men.


Read more:

Practice: Match the description to the letter (above) of the dwarf it describes. Some will be used twice.

  1. always complaining
  2. always laughing
  3. blushes quite easily
  4. doesn't have a beard
  5. extremely long beard
  6. leader of the dwarfs
  7. like Santa Claus
  8. never speaks
  9. terrible allergies
  10. wisest

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for May 19, 2008

This lesson received 1061 visits on my old site between November, 2011, and July, 2021.

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. c; 2. d; 3. g; 4. b; 5. e; 6. a; 7. d; 8. b; 9. f; 10. a